1948 – 1969

Born in London Ontario, 1948
Attended Princess Elizabeth Elementary School, awarded First prize in Art
from I.O.D.E at graduation 1961
Attended art classes with Claire Bice, London Public Library and Art Gallery

Attended H B Beal Technical Institute, 1964 – 1968
( teachers Herb Ariss, John O’Henly, Hugh Mackenzie )
Trips to Detroit Institute of Arts and Albright Knox Art Gallery

Grades 11 and 12 awarded prize for hockey helmet design from manufacturer,
designed and painted outdoor billboard sign advertising Beal Art exhibit

Artist with Acme Neon Signs Ltd, 1968 – 1969
Paralysis and hospitalization, July – Sept 1968, convalescing for remainder of year

Travel to Great Britain and Europe, Sept. 1969 – April 1970, visited major museums,
art galleries and historic sites. Returned due to health concerns re paralysis and had major abdominal surgery, summer 1970

1970 – 1979

Attended Fanshawe College 1970 – 1972

( teachers include Eric Atkinson, Rudolf Bikkers, Tom Coulter )

Founding member of Trajectory Gallery with Fanshawe College student union and
Steven Joy, an exhibition space for students, teachers and visiting artists
Awarded art bursary at graduation 1972

Established studio downtown on Richmond Street 1972
Exhibitions in local and regional art galleries 1971 – 1979

Travel to New York, visited Guggenheim and MOMA museums July 1974
Artist with Eaton’s Department store in advertising department 1974
Teacher and printer of editions for artists in Printmaking department,
Fanshawe College 1972 – 1974

Treatment for mononucleosis, summer/autumn 1975
Attended Althouse College, UWO, London, teacher training 1976 – 1977

Artist and teacher at H B Beal Art Department 1977 – 1980 

Collaborated with Dr. Martin Robinson, designed cover for Steering

Committee document for establishing Museum London 1975

Accepted Islam as personal faith April 15, 1979

1980 – 1989

Artist and teacher with London Board of Education 1980 – 1984

Group and solo exhibitions locally

Travelled to Pakistan, India and Kashmir March – May 1980,
contacted malaria and returned to Canada
Travelled to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan Feb – May 1982

Married in July 1983, moved to Toronto
Founding member and teacher for a private elementary school, Mississauga 1983 – 1986
Travelled to Great Britain and France July 1985

Moved back to London, June 1986
Attended UWO, Honours Visual Arts 1986 – 1989
(Teachers included Helmut Becker and Roly Fenwick)
Travelled to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan April – July 1988

Moved back to Toronto, August 1988
Attended University of Toronto Scarborough, final year of Honours degree 1988 – 1989 (teachers included Don Holman, master printer)
Group and solo exhibitions locally

1990 – 1999

Teacher with the Toronto District School Board 1990 – 1999
Son born in 1990 and daughter in 1992

Designed fundraising art and committee member to establish The Islamic Foundation, Scarborough, a mosque, school, and community centre 1991

Consultant and teacher of curriculum for private school and liaison with the Ontario Ministry of Education for accreditation, Whitby, Ontario 1993

Founding member of a private elementary school in North York and retreat in Northern Ontario to provide wilderness experience for children and families, 1994 – 2000

2000 – Present

Teacher with the Toronto District School Board 2000 – 2006
Renovated house and extended studio space 1999 – 2001
Retired from teaching, working as a full time artist, 2006 – present
Diagnosed with cancer, surgery and treatment, Dec 2008 – April 2009

© 2010 Dan Crawford | all rights reserved

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The Seasons






                                     Click on image to enlarge       

The four drawings represent the seasons of winter, spring, summer and autumn. The drawings seen together form a circle which is subdivided into four quadrants. The drawing is a study for a painting. This image is a continuation of the idea which is also seen in an earlier painting shown below installed in an exhibition at Trajectory Gallery.             

The Four Seasons, 4 canvas panels, each 152.4 x 152.4 cm


                     The final painting shown below, each canvas panel is  61 cm x 61 cm    


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Moon over Kaaba

Moon Over Kaaba

The image of the moon is a recurring image seen in a series of works completed over the last 35 years. Here the celestial satellite is contrasted with the Earthly Kaaba, the cubic House of Allah (God) which is known as the first place of worship built by the prophet Adam and later reconstruced by the prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael.

This drawing shows the use of coloured pencil, oil pastel and gold paint on a textured and inscibed paper surface.
The halo lines surrounding the Kaaba represents the pilgrims circling the structure in the ritual circumabulation or tawaf at the time of the Haaj or Umrah (Pilgrimage).
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The Ninety Nine Signs

The drawing below shows the Ninety Nine Signs in gold paint on a background with incised markings and coloured pencil utilizing the texture of the paper surface. This is a study for a painting and continues the series based on the 99 Names of Allah. Each symbol represents one of the signs or qualities of Allah.

The Ninety Nine Signs of Allah

The drawing is organized on a grid composition.

Detail of the Ninety Nine Signs

This image is of the painting at an early stage showing the Ninety Nine Signs. The detail is a closeup showing some of the signs in relief  with underpainting texture on the gessoed panel prior to the final painting.

The final painting is shown below.
The Ninety Nine Signs, acrylic painting on plywood, 122 x 150 cm
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The Ninety Nine Names 3

 This drawing is another example of the Ninety Nine Names of Allah
using the calligraphic nail symbol and the enscribed names. Here the
nail symbols all point to the centre which represents the Qabaa in Mecca,
the first House of God built by Adam and restored by Abraham.
The direction, or Qibla, towards Mecca is the orientation all Muslims face
when praying. This established practise creates a universal Unity which is
also manifested in the annual pilgrimage or Hajj to Mecca.
The nail shape is similar to the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, the alif which is also a single vertical shape. The various nail symbols change shape to also represent the letters of the enscribed words. The placement of the nail shapes creates a movement across the sheet of paper, the central radiating one and the dance of each nail shape.
Pencil on paper, 76.8 x 94 cm


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The Ninety Nine Names 2

This drawing is another image which explores the use of symbols to represent the traditional names of Allah or God. The image below right shows a detail of the drawing which is divided into 99 squares with a name in each square. A stylus was used to enscribe each name and also add a texture to the paper surface. Pencil was drawn over the paper surface to reveal the names and texture. The image of a bent nail, each one a different shape, has the appearance of calligraphy and is used as a symbol for each name. The nail symbols have a shifting orientation to the four cardinal directions which represents what one would do if facing Mecca to pray in different parts of the world.   

The names when reflected upon reveal  the attributes associated with each name. The first name is Allah, the One who is Eternal which is placed in the centre. The next name is The Merciful, Al Rahman in Arabic which is in the top left corner. The transliteration of Arabic into English is used for each name. The names continue left to right and down the length of the drawing. The names are purposely not visually dominant allowing the viewer to search and discover the name and its’attributes. Traditionally one would commit the names to memory and recite the names as a spiritual practice and devotion. A treatise of the ninety nine names can be seen in a text, Al-Ghazali, The Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of God.   

Pencil on paper 76.5 x 94 cm

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Studio Light

Pencil drawing of painting in studio

The environment of the studio can be visually engaging as one works on various ideas. Considering the quality of light as it enters the work space, at different times of the day and season to season, can be a factor in the choice of colours and their value as work progresses on an art work.  The image shown left is an earlier drawing of a studio view which shows the interplay of the painted view of a still life on an easel in the foreground, see image below right, and another simple still life in the background. The picture plane is divided by dominant diagonals, the use of different implied textures and the suggestion of a strong light.    

Painting of still life

The drawing below is another approach to the still life with the environment of the studio and the exterior also being considered. The large north facing windows with stain glass panels, weather effects and light offer visual information to work with. The final painted image will contrast the inside with the outside but also have elements of opacity and transparency, movement as opposed to stillness and contrasts of textures and shapes.      

Studio Light, pencil drawing on paper

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My Childhood Night Sky

Two jars, a tin, two pears and a salt shaker


In my use of jars and other still life objects I consider the quality of light, the transparency and the relationship of the objects one to the other. The space inside a jar and between each object is carefully considered. The final composition supports the initial idea. The linoleum print at the right is an earlier work that shows one composition of the objects and a certain quality of light. I chose a piece of used floor linoleum for the print as there was a readymade texture in the surface of the linoleum that gave me the effect I wanted when printed. The background grey colour shows this texture feature.     

The drawing below, My Childhood Night Sky, continues my involvement with the still life. While planning the drawing I was recalling the wonder one has as a child of space, stars, planets and how simple objects through ones imagination can become something else. The planets are Saturn, Jupiter and the red planet Mars.    

I consider how to use non traditional still life objects to convey the idea.  Jars contain not only objects but also memories and ideas. So the idea of saving something of value, like a relic, is also considered in these still life works. The Tower of Babel and David and Golliath are two other recent examples of this approach to the still life genre. The Prophet’s Comb is another, an earlier linocut print.      

Pencil drawing on Paper




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The Sacred Arabic Numerals

The drawings of the ten Arabic numerals began with  the study of the Arabic language and research of the traditional calligraphy seen in numerous examples in Qur’ans, mosques and on various objects. The image below left is an example of a preliminary drawing where some of the colour and composition details are investigated.  The composition of shapes follows an alternating order beginning with a circle then a square. The use of the circle and square are shapes that are central  to the traditional designs seen in Islamic art and archtecture. 


The image below right is a drawing of the ten numerals in black and white.  Each numeral is in it’s final form.  When using a traditional calligraphy pen the initial mark, called a nookta, is made to begin forming each numeral. The nookta looks similar to the Arabic number zero or a diamond shape which is the size of the pen nib width. The pen stroke begins at the top and then continues in a downward stroke. The numbers are qualitative and quantative entities. Their outward expression is as mathematical numbers and there also exists an essence, in Arabic a batin which distinguishes one number from another. This distinguishing feature is a representation of Unity whereby all numbers relate to their source. The numerals 1, 5, 7 and 0 will be briefly discussed.


One represents Allah or God the Creator, primordial, eternal and permanent. One is the principle and the origin of all numbers.                                                                 


Five represents the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. In nature the qualities of ether, fire, air, water and earth exist. In this drawing the number five is gold leafed.    



 The number seven represents the seven visible planets, the Sun, Moon and the five planets closest to the sun in our solar system, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The moon is represented in this drawing. The number seven also represents the seven days of the week.

The number zero or sifr in Arabic like the other nine numbers has a quantitative quality in that it represents nothing but when added to one the two numbers represent ten and so on. The qualitative or esoteric meaning of zero is the Divine Essence. God is One, Eternal not restricted to the domain of something or nothing.


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The Ninety Nine Names

In Islam there is a tradition of reciting the 99 names of Allah or God. These names have certain attributes or qualities whereby the memorization of the names and their prescribed recitation has a spiritual dimension which has a benefit to the reciter. Other Traditions have similar practises when reciting prescribed words or phrases while using a string of beads to count and keep track of the number of times one is reciting a word or phrase. In the Catholic tradition the rosary is recited and in Islam there are many remembrances or invocations that are recited.             

My interest in the 99 Names of God and other signs that exist in our material world led me to consider not only the spiritual dimension but how to use signs or symbols to represent the names. I began with researches of the written words whether in Arabic or English. Of course traditional calligrapy has incredible merit and appeal as can be seen in so many examples both ancient and modern. This interest progressed from considering Islamic designs, to basic signs such as directional arrows, to using basic shapes and lines in repetition. In the example of the preliminary drawing below right, the placement of the arrows creates a linear pattern, a basic geometric pattern that is also seen in Islamic compositions.  This composition is the one I decided to use for future art works.     


                                                               The detail of the large drawing at the left is an example of a composition using the linear grid of 11 rows and 9 columns to create 99 squares. Each square has a pattern of repeated lines scribed into the paper surface. Over each pattern a light grey value in pencil is applied to the surface which reveals the scribed pattern. The directional arrows are drawn on top of  each scribed pattern. Each scribed pattern is unique as are the 99 Names.        

The following image shows the use of  symbols to represent the individual names of God. Each name is numbered in a numerical sequence from 1 to 99 beginning from the top left and proceeding to the right. The first name is The Beneficent and is number one.  The symbol in each square represents that name.          


The Ninety Nine Names of Allah with Symbols

The painting below is one of a series using the symbols of 25 of the Names of Allah. The grid of squares is a 5 x 5 format. Each square has a numerical value based on a magic square, a mathematical principle based on a qualitative value. The numerical position on the magic square determines the placement of each symbol/name.        

The Twenty Five Names of Allah









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